For thousands of years the
Chinese have believed that everything a woman thinks, does and sees will
influence the well being of the foetus. Pregnant
women are advised to read good books and poetry, listen to music and avoid
gossip, anger, laughing loudly, hearing load noises, sitting on a crooked mat
and looking at clashing colours.
If a pregnant woman eats food
that's not properly cut or mashed it is thought that her child will have a
If she eats hot and spicy food
her child will have a temper.
If she eats light coloured
foods, the baby will be fair-skinned.
If her belly is rubbed too
often during pregnancy her child will be demanding.
It was felt that pregnant
women should never attend funerals.
Pregnant women often sleep
with knives under their bed to scare away evil spirits.
The Chinese don’t name a
baby before it is born. Babies are
given false names, or milk names, to confuse or scare away evil spirits.
showers usually occur after the
baby arrives as it is considered unlucky to
throw a baby shower for an unborn baby.
A month before the baby is
due, the maternal grandmother sends a package of clothing for her expectant
daughter called “tsue shen” to hastening the delivery. There is a white
cloth inside the package with which to wrap the newborn.
After delivery the mother is
traditionally encouraged to remain in her home for 30-40 days. She is freed from
household duties and sits in her bed alone to look after her new infant.
Sometimes even the husband must stay away.
Baby's pillows were
with rice or beans to give the baby's head a proper shape.
A baby’s head should be
stroked often so as it becomes nicely rounded.
The baby’s ankles would be
loosely bound with a wide ribbon to keep the feet in an upright position.
This was supposed to
encourage a strong stride later in life.
The maternal grandmother
provides all of the baby equipment and waits for three days after the baby
arrives before she sees her daughter and grandchild to deliver the goods.
When a Chinese baby is born
he/she is already considered to be a year old.
This is because age is calculated from the date of conception not the
date of birth.
Praise should never be given
to a new baby as this may invite the attention of demons and ghosts.
Instead the Chinese refer to the baby in unfavourable terms.
A concave navel is considered
a sign of a prosperous life for the baby.
A baby with more than one
crown of hair will be mischievous and disobedient.
If a baby has wide and thick
ears he/she will live in prosperity.
A baby is bathed after the
third day in a traditional ceremony. Incense is burnt for the gods and the
midwife sits with the mother surrounded by a straw sieve, a mirror, a padlock,
an onion, a comb and a weight. The
baby is bathed in hot water boiled with herbs. A red silk and string of coins
is fastened around the bath. Guests (female only) place a piece of fruit or
coloured egg into the water and a spoonful of cool water in the
A small gift of silver is a
traditional gift for a new born baby.
Red Egg Ceremony is the baby's biggest celebration and is held at one month
of age when the mother is also allowed out of her room. Eggs are a universal symbol of fertility and when dyed red the Chinese
consider them to be very fortuitous. Chinese
Buddhist and Toaist families hold the Red Egg Ceremony in order to bring good
luck to their child’s life. (Adopted families sometimes incorporate it
into a naming day ceremony). The red egg tradition started when it was
customary for the maternal grandmother to bring gifts as eggs were considered a
present day Red Egg celebrations, red coloured eggs are placed on the table and guests
may take one home for good luck.
often bring gifts of clothing or "lucky money" envelopes called “Li-shihs”
to the ceremony.
Baby’s head would often be
shaved during the Red Egg Ceremony. A girl’s head was shaved before the image
of the Goddess of Children and a boy's head before the ancestral table. It is
thought that the meaning of this was to mark the point of the child's independent
the Red Egg Ceremony a red egg would be
rubbed over the child’s head for good fortune.
families sometimes incorporate it into a naming day ceremony.)
The guests receive ginger to
take home with them. Ginger wards off evil spirits and its “yang” energy.
Ginger equalises the “yin” energy of the new mother.
A silver or gold padlock is
placed around baby’s neck locking the child to this world. A
custom attributed to the high infant mortality rate in ancient China.
Instead of sending thank you
cards to the guests for their gifts, the baby's parents send presents to them.
This gift usually consists of "char-sui baus", or Chinese pork buns as
they are known in Australia.
The 100th day is
cause for a big celebration and with fish and chicken served.
The cooked chicken’s tounge
is rubbed on the baby's lips to make it a good talker.
A traditional 100th
day gift is a rocking chair from the paternal grandfather.
The child's 1st birthday is
celebrated with a large feast and offerings to the gods.
Parents place a variety of
objects in a basket to offer to the child.
These include a pen, silver, official seal, needlework and some toys. The
object the baby grabs signifies the child's future.
The traditional 1st
birthday gift is a gold ring to protect the baby during harsh times.
A long bread (yu char kuei) is
given to the child for the first time as it is believed it will help the child
learn how to walk.
The day a child walks for the
first time a relative will walk behind him with a knife drawing three lines on
the ground. The Chinese believe there are invisible bindings around a child's
ankles that bind the child to a previous life. By cutting the bindings the child
can walk freely forever.